|No. 19 is back and eager to pitch in|
After spending six weeks and one day on the disabled list with a knee injury, Joey Votto will make his triumphant return to the Reds on Tuesday as they face the Philadelphia Phillies at GABP. Whether or not he plays remains to be seen, but it's a guarantee that he will at least be in uniform and in the dugout. Votto originally suffered the injury while sliding into third base on June 29th in San Francisco.
Though the team owns the best record in the majors since the All-Star Break, and has stretched their division lead from one game to nine while their star player was out, having a healthy and able Votto back in the mix is certainly a welcome sight. The Canadian native was heralded as the clear-cut favorite to win the National League MVP Award prior to his trip to the DL on July 16th.
Until then, he was on pace to shatter the all-time, single-season record for most doubles in a season and was hitting at a ridiculous slash line of .342/.465/.604. And despite missing a full month and a half, his 4.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) still ranks as the 10th-highest among any position player in the league. He isn't likely to win MVP honors at this point, but he still figures to have a major impact down the stretch.
Through 86 games played, the 28-year old has 14 homers, 49 RBI, and 52 runs scored to along with those 36 two-baggers. He needs only five more to eclipse his career high (40) set during the 2011 campaign. Believe it or not, his .465 on-base percentage and 1.069 OPS is still the highest of any hitter in MLB this season (min. 350 PA). His .823 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position this year also leads the majors (min. 50 AB). Yes, I would venture to say that many folks are happy to see his name on Dusty Baker's lineup card again, especially folks around the city of Cincinnati.
*Editor's note: The Reds reinstated Votto from the disabled list and placed him on the active roster before the game. However, he is not in the starting lineup.*